Social media posts that an SAA pilot – who was part of the crew responsible for the repatriation of 112 South Africans from Wuhan in China to South Africa on 14 March – has died of Covid-19, are untrue.
News24 has spoken to various sources who have indicated that Nakedi Tebatso Ntshane has not died of coronavirus-related causes, nor was she a pilot during the repatriation.
A Facebook post claimed that Ntshane was a “female pilot from Atteridgeville who fetched S. Africans from China”, stating that she has died of Covid-19.
The post was screen-grabbed and retweeted several times on Twitter since Monday, leading to a trend on Twitter by Tuesday morning.
News24 has seen communication, purportedly sent by Ntshane’s cousin, claiming that the posts are fake news. “The part about corona… is not true and is not sitting well with the family,” she wrote.
SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali also denied the claims, saying: “We mourn the loss of life of our colleague, Nakedi Tebatso Ntshane, who passed on last Sunday morning after a short illness. She was employed at SAA as a cabin crew member and was training towards becoming a commercial pilot.
“We find it unfortunate and insensitive that some individuals made it their business to spread false information about the cause of Tebatso’s death. Claims that she died from Covid-19-related complications are untrue as they are not clinically and medically supported.”
Tlali said the SAA medical department has confirmed that the airline has had no Covid-19-related deaths, be it crew or employees in other disciplines.
“We are appalled that the distribution of this false information was in total disregard of privacy and respect towards the family and the deceased,” Tlali said.
News24 also received a message from an acquaintance of Ntshane, stating: “She did the Wuhan flight, was in quarantine with everyone else in Limpopo where a battery of tests were conducted before their release. She didn’t operate any of the subsequent repatriation flights after their release. Claims that she died of Covid-19 are not clinically and medically supported.”